The Walking Dead’s seventh season drew to a close on March 2 after an entire season episodes that sent the ratings plummeting. Since the much anticipated Lucille scene in the season six finale and the introduction of the equally anticipated and iconic comic book villain, Negan, viewership has been dwindling down to an all time “five year low” according to forbes.com with the season seven finale. Despite the flaws in the seventh season, it is doing a fairly decent job at building up the pace, if only viewers were patient.
The season started off in October with the introduction of Negan which lead to fan favorites being murdered brutally by the beloved bat, Lucille. It was coined one of the most brutal scenes in Walking Dead history and even received some complaints because of the graphic intensity of the kills. Fans were met with disdain for Negan’s presence and quickly wanted team Family to take him out, however throughout the next couple episodes, realized it was not going to happen so quick. Negan had truly “ruled the roost”.
Over the course of the next few episodes in season seven a, team family bends to Negan’s will by allowing him to confiscate half of their supplies in return for protection, although Negan does more harm than good. The viewers are introduced to new factions including fan favorites Shiva and Ezekiel from Kingdom, and Oceanside, which was also newly introduced to comic readers as it was only mentioned briefly in regards to Michonne. Ironically, the new information and faction was also given in a filler episode, which held the lowest ratings.
Many viewers found that the season had been slow, and it was not hard to find comments regarding negative reactions to the number of scenes regarding the Saviors or Negan in general. That being said, there were also a number of reactions saying that Negan was the highlight of season seven entirely, proving his character is doing just what it was created for- to stir the crowed.
It’s not until the mid season finale that Rick and team family gather the strength to fight Negan, and create an army to lead into the infamous All Out War comic book story arc, which was the premise of the season finale.
Robert Kirkman, the show’s creator, had confirmed prior to the finale that it would not leave on quite the same note as season six, but still with a cliffhanger, as well as give the audience a taste of different emotions all in the same hour and twenty five minutes. Of all seven finale’s, season seven is at the top of the list simply for that reason. It gives the audience a taste of the upcoming season in a way that puts the viewer in the middle of the war where no one has one quite yet. It leaves the audience just as eager as the season six finale without having to wait too long and have a secret spoiled, and it launched the show forward from it’s former build up and into war.
While many viewers found the season dull, as an avid comic reader, I found it to be a good choice not to rush into the war storyline. There were slow moments, some moments could have been used better elsewhere, but the end result was a fantastic shift in pace that sets the proper tone. That being said, there are a few things that are important to remember about shows like The Walking Dead.
The first thing is that it is impossible to have action packed episodes every week. Slow and steady paced episodes benefit the season more in the end than a never ending amount of battles. Episodes fans may claim to be boring often lend to vital information that may be used in future arcs. Although I was not a fan of Swear, the episode did foreshadow the help Oceanside would be lending towards the All Out War arc in season eight.
The second thing is that character deaths are bound to happen. Yes, even fan favorites, and even those that some may think are too good to die. If we are to only count for Team Family, season seven has delivered the most main character deaths to date, and they all come together to form a bigger story. Although the fanbase may be disappointed their favorite is gone, there would be no fun in a show where everyone is safe.
The last thing to remember is that there is more to come. While the viewership and ratings may be low this season, The Walking Dead is still one of the most popular series on television to date, and if the show runs as long as the comics have, we, as the fans, have much to look forward to.